Southampton Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center Receive Low Grades On Safety Evaluation

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Both Southampton Hospital and Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead received relatively low grades in a Hospital Safety Score evaluation released last week.

In the evaluation—which addresses how a hospital handles various safety measures, including problems during surgeries, treating infections, staffing to prevent safety problems and upholding standard safety procedures—Southampton Hospital received a grade of “C,” while Peconic Bay received a “D.”

The semi-annual evaluation is administered by the Leapfrog Group, a not-for-profit that advocates for hospital transparency. The organization uses data voluntarily provided by hospitals in order to conduct its evaluations. For the spring 2015 report, 139 hospitals in New York State participated, a portion of a total of 2,523 nationwide.

According to the report, Southampton Hospital performed below average in its staff taking steps to ensure safety specifically during surgeries, and in using standard safety procedures such as tracking and “reducing risks to patients.” On the other hand, it scored above average in its protocols for staff to prevent safety problems.

Past reports, available at hospitalsafetyscore.org, show that Southampton has been consistent in its grade since 2012.

Robert S. Chaloner, Southampton’s president and CEO, said the hospital’s sole priority is to provide the highest quality of health care on the East End, using groups such as Leapfrog as a guide in doing that.

“We are constantly reviewing patient care protocols, and we strive to deliver the best possible care to our patients and their families,” he said. “We use the feedback from groups such as Leapfrog to benchmark our efforts and continue to focus on areas for improvement. We fully support public accountability and transparency for all health care providers.”

Peconic Bay also scored below average in staff taking steps to ensure safety during surgeries, but scored average in safety problems during surgery. The Riverhead hospital, however, did not provide data on its use of standard safety procedures, nor did it provide information on staff’s efforts to prevent safety problems.

The “D” is a declining grade for Peconic Bay, which in the past has received a score of “C” and even “B” as recently as 2013.

Samantha Vigliotta, vice president of development for the hospital, said in a statement that while Peconic Bay is being proactive about fixing the problematic areas pointed out in the Hospital Safety Score evaluation, consumers should consult multiple rating agencies for a better overall picture.

“PBMC scored in the top 20 percent for patient safety among New York State hospitals, according to Consumer Reports,” she said. “We have already identified the areas for improvement, have initiated changes, and we would expect our efforts to reflect in an improved score in the future.”

A spokesperson for the Leapfrog group agreed that grades do not necessarily reflect the overall quality of a hospital. Even if an institution receives an “A”—25 hospitals in New York did—there is always room for improvement.

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